If you have been to Monterey than you have probably been on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail either by foot, bike or even a surrey. Thanks to Segway Tours Monterey this scenic stretch of trail can now be enjoyed by a whole new form of transportation! You may have noticed these contraptions in bigger cities like San Francisco or L.A. so imagine my excitement when I spotted a handful of these alien-like transports trailing down the road in Monterey. It was clear that these were part of a tour since they were playing “follow the leader” so I did a little research and found Segway Tours Monterey.
I met up with Jerry, guide/owner, at the Pacific Grove Visitors Center where several Segways were waiting for his next Historical Monterey Tour through Cannery Row and downtown Monterey. I was joined by a family from the Central Valley whose son could not wait to get his hands on the two-wheeled machine; I have an idea what is on his Christmas list this year.
Once we were fitted for helmets and given a brief tutorial from Jerry “the pro” we stepped on board our battery-powered electric vehicles. I was a little jerky at first but soon found my balance, good thing I wore flat-soled shoes! The gas and break are all controlled by the weight you put on the platform, leaning forward to go forwards, balancing to stop and leaning back to go backwards. The steering device looks like a pogo stick handle and maneuvers this baby with ease; you can even do a 360 degree turn! Jerry set up an obstacle course in the parking lot of the Pacific Grove Visitors Center where we weaved in and out of cones careful not to hit any of the barriers. After 10 minutes we all seemed to have the hang of it and headed towards Cannery Row.
Being on a Segway makes you an instant celebrity. At first I thought people were staring at my cute outfit but soon realized that people are not used to seeing these self-balancing and stealth-like vehicles out on the trail. Curious bystanders were doing double takes with glares of wonder and a hint of jealousy in their eyes.
Jerry noted that Segways have the same jurisdictions as pedestrians and can roam just about wherever you are able to go on two feet. This even gave us access to the narrow alleys between Ed Ricketts’ Lab and the InterContinental the Clement Monterey. Jerry stopped to discuss Ed (Doc) Ricketts’ ties with local author John Steinbeck and his novel “Cannery Row.”
After a history lesson we continued on the recreation trail towards Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Being on the personal transporter brought a new appreciation of the sights and sounds of the trail like I have never experienced before. Usually I am huffing and puffing from a run on the scenic path but this time I could actually smell the fragrance of spring, feel the coastal breeze and see the fishing boats bobbing about in the harbor.
Downtown Monterey is full of historical hot spots and Jerry definitely hit most of them including Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Custom House Plaza, California’s First Theatre and the Del Monte Hotel at the Naval Post Graduate School. We even stopped for a bit at the San Carlos Chapel to browse the inside of California’s oldest continuously functioning church.
We took the scenic route back to home base going up Casa Verde for incredible views of Monterey Bay. Jerry demonstrated that Segways could easily be used on a variety of terrain including sand. It wasn’t until I saw this thing glide gracefully in the powdery pebbles when I said in a whiny tone “I want one.” What couldn’t this thing do?
The two-hour Historical Monterey Tour gave me a new appreciation for the trail and the rich history of Monterey within just a few miles radius. Segway Tours Monterey also provides scenic tours on the Recreation Trial and Seventeen Mile Drive. For reservations call 831-324-4438. Happy segwaying!